At Rio+20 in June 2012, governments agreed that green economy is an important tool for achieving sustainable development. In the Arab region, consultations on green economy affirmed that the transition towards a green economy should generate new job opportunities in green sectors, support the integration between policies targeting water, energy and food security, and mobilize adequate financial resources and facilitate technology transfer. A number of countries in the Arab region have begun implementing significant national green economy initiatives (including the UAE, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia). The importance of an Arab green economy agenda has also been acknowledged by the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment (CAMRE) of the League of Arab States which requested ESCWA and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to develop a regional green economy investment vision and roadmap. In a post-Rio+20 context, the Region will need to consider how the transition to a green economy can best be implemented through sustainable development programs and strategies, and what regional mechanisms and initiatives can help build the capacity of governments to develop national policies and leverage financial resources and green technologies.
To support regional and national stakeholders to draft and implement such policies, ESCWA has been leading since 2012, a Development Account project entitled “Strengthening national capacities in the ESCWA region on developing green production sectors”. The project was implemented jointly with the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), UNEP, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and a number of national public and private institutions. The aim of the project is to build the capacity of policymakers, civil society, business support institutions and industry associations in developing green production sectors in the region through the design and implementation of effective policies and programmes.
One of the main outcomes of the Project has been the establishment of Green Help Desks in the Region to function as “One Stop Shops” and a first interface to support private companies aiming at engaging in green sectors, either by starting a green business or by “greening their activities”. So far, 5 Help Desks have been established and are operational in Lebanon (Association of Lebanese Industrialists), Oman (Public Authority for SMEs Development), Jordan (Royal Scientific Society), Tunisia (Ministry of Environment and Equipment) and Egypt (Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe) while 2 others are in the kick off phase in Iraq and Morocco. The Help Desks support beneficiaries through the provision of information and training on means of reaping the opportunities emerging from a green economy. (A GHD management guide and operational plans have been developed to support the replication of the GHDs in other countries.)
Close cooperation has been also sought with the Cleaner Production Centers, aiming to coordinate and complement efforts in greening the production sectors in the region. The Lebanese Cleaner Production Center was particularly active in this regard.
Another major component of the project consisted of a regional mapping exercise to review and assess existing green policies and programmes in the region for productive sectors development and "green" support services at the international, regional and national levels. The mapping exercise helped determine the needs and opportunities for developing green production sectors through pilot projects and national training activities. Moreover, it has enabled the development of regional guidelines on the formulation of policies and programmes for the development of green production sectors
ESCWA, in cooperation with the Green Help Desk in Oman, is organizing this final seminar to present to Project partners, donors and other stakeholders the main outcomes of the Project and its role in the transition towards a green economy. The Seminar will also introduce a recently launched ESCWA Project on "Building Capacities in Developing Appropriate Green Technologies for Improving the Livelihood of Rural Communities in the ESCWA Region," which is a natural continuation of the current one and will build on its outcomes.